California American Indian Facts

California Indians – Introduction

In this section of Native American Indian Facts you will find information about the American Indian tribes that currently or that have inhabited California. There are more Indians in California than any other state in the U.S. Over 100 tribes have inhabited California or parts of California. In this section we list many interesting facts about the indigenous people of California including, their history, culture, tribal traditions, who the famous men and women were, how the Indians survived, where they lived, and the jewelry they wore. Below there is a list of several of these tribes followed by a list of facts about the Native Americans of California. This information is written for both kids and adults.

List of American Indians who inhabited California

  • Achumawi
  • Atsugewi
  • Cahuilla
  • Chemehuevi
  • Chilula
  • Chimariko
  • Chumash
  • Cocopah
  • Ohlone
  • Cupeno
  • Diegueno (Kumeyaay)
  • Esselen
  • Gabrielino (Tongva)
  • Halchidhoma
  • Hupa
  • Juaneno
  • Karok
  • Kashaya
  • Kato
  • Kawaiisu
  • Kitanemuk
  • Klamath
  • Konkow
  • Lassik
  • Luiseno
  • Maidu
  • Mattole
  • Miwok
  • Modoc
  • Mojave
  • Mono
  • Nisenan
  • Nomlaki
  • Nongatl
  • Northern Paiute
  • Panamint
  • Patwin
  • Pomo
  • Quechan
  • Salinan
  • Serrano
  • Shasta
  • Shoshoni
  • Sinkyone
  • Southern Paiute
  • Tataviam
  • Tolowa
  • Tubatulabal
  • Wailaki
  • Wappo
  • Whilkut
  • Wintu
  • Wiyot
  • Yana and Yahi
  • Yokuts
  • Yuki
  • Yurok
  • Facts about California American Indians

    • People have inhabited California for over 19,000 years. It is possible they have lived there for much longer. These early inhabitants crossed a land bridge that use to exist across the Bering Straits from Asia to Alaska. Eventually these settlers made their way throughout America including south into what is now California.
    • The oldest human skeleton discovered in California (and arguably in North America) is approximately 13,000 years old. The skeleton, named the Arlington Springs Man, was discovered on Santa Rosa Island.
    • Due to an excellent food supply and a mild climate the Indian population flourished in California. Prior to the arrival of Europeans it is estimated approximately 300,000 Indians lived there.
    • Unlike other regions of America Indian tribes located in California were generally isolated from other regions and even other tribes within California. This isolation was due to landforms such as high mountain ranges and long deserts.
    • California generally has a mild climate and therefore the Indians who lived there wore very little clothing. In some colder areas they would wear skins and furs in the winter.
    • Europeans started to explore and settle California in the 16th century.
    • Before arrival of the first European settlers and explorers California had the highest Indian population north of Mexico.
    • Epidemics such as malaria devastated the Indian population of California. Their population was reduced from approximately 200,000 in 1800 to near 15,000 by 1900.
    • At one point, before the arrival of Europeans in North America, there were over one hundred different languages spoken by the indigenous people of California.
    • The Modoc War (also called the Lava Beds War) was the last of the Indian Wars to take place in California. The war started in November 1872 when the U.S. military tried to force a small number of Modoc Indians back to a reservation. The Indian warriors, even though greatly outnumbered, fought for seven months before finally being defeated.
    • The last wild Indian in America was from the Yahi tribe of California. His name was Ishi, and in 1911 he wandered out of the wild near Oroville California.